Passing on a Godly Heritage

Whose Kingdom are You Building?

Posted by on Aug 26, 2011 in Passing on a Godly Heritage | 5 comments

Looking back through some past blog posts, I came across this one today. I’m reposting because it was an encouragement to me! How I long to continue building the kingdom of God today. Do you?

Rustle, rustle… stir… whimper… whimper.  I role over and try to pry my eyelids open.  Squinting at the clock, I attempt to focus my eyes on the red numbers.  4:42.  Ugh.  She can make it a little longer till she needs to eat, I think….

Swish, swish…blankets moving…whimper…pant…  I have to sit halfway up this time to lean over my husband.  5:23.  Can she make it a little longer?  I was hoping for 6:30 this morning. Whimpering turns to panting that turns into wailing.  I slide my legs out from under the comfy covers and lean over the crib.  In the soft light I see my little girl turn to look up into my face.  Her countenance changes from utter disgust to one of the cutest smiles I’ve ever seen.  “Is momma’s little girl hungry?” I whisper.  She smiles.

I scoop her up and tip-toe out the bedroom door and sleepily sink into the living room couch.   She begins to whimper again.  Obviously, I’m not getting food into her belly as fast as she wants!  As soon as she is able, she latches on as if she hasn’t seen food in years.  Her eyes close.  Her perfect little hand rests on my chest as if she’s cupping a bottle.  She drinks contentedly in long, slow gulps.  Minutes later I sit holding this little one.  She sleeps soundly now in my arms, belly full.  I stare at her perfect face and thank God for such a blessing.  She smiles in her sleep.  I wonder what she’s dreaming about.  I stand and quietly lay her back down into bed.  She sighs.  Then she drifts off to a sound sleep again.

Wailing, crying, pooping, feeding, spit-up, another outfit soiled, another load of laundry.  Wipe the nose.  Wash the dishes.  Vacuum the floor.  Pick up the toys.  Wipe the counter.  More poop.  Eat again.  Cry.  Play.  Laugh.  More spit-up.  Poop. Take a bath.  Nap.  Sit down.  Get up.  Make dinner.  Eat.  Spit-up.  Cry.  Bed?  Smile.  Feed….

“Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do ALL to the glory of God.”1 Corinthians 10:31

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with ALL your might;” Ecclesiastes 9:10

“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you.” 1 Thessalonians 4:11

“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.” Colossians 3:23

 

In Sunday school this week we discussed the theology of vocation.  Since then, my mind has meditated on the truths written in the verses above.  To bring glory to our God through our vocation (job) involves glorifying Him with whatever we do.  When I seek to take joy in my tasks and praise the God who created me by working diligently, I exalt Him and build His kingdom.  For me, this means as I clean every dirty diaper, load of laundry, runny nose, pile of dishes, I can praise Jesus.  For you, it may mean every email sent, paperwork filed, phone call made, essay assignment completed, lesson prepared, wall painted, client helped, or broken arm set should be done with an internal motive of glorifying the Lord and master of your life.

How do we build Christ’s kingdom by doing these things? By working cheerfully as to the Lord.  By not complaining about what He has given us to do.  By having an eternal perspective.  By knowing that our life will dwindle like a vapor so we must do all things now to make our life count, not just for our family and friends, but for the God who created us.

My daughter lies on the floor now kicking and playing.  She’s starting to get fussy because she needs a diaper change and a nap. I’m off to build the kingdom of Christ.  Whose kingdom are you working on?

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Devotion’s 101 ~ Gwen’s Story

Posted by on Jun 30, 2010 in Passing on a Godly Heritage | 1 comment

My mom is a wonderful, godly woman that has devoted the past 26 years of her life to raising children and taking care of her home. (Click here to see some pictures of my mom and me.) She and my dad were both faithful to have consistent morning devotions with us every day during the school year. We often had them at night too!

Right now my mom still has three boys at home, ages 12, 16, and 19. Here are her responses to some family devotion questions. I’ve added a few notes about what I remember as well in italics.

How often does your family have devotions together? Describe a typical family devo time.

During the school year we have what we call “Wisdom Searches” [every morning before breakfast] where we read through the Proverbs for the day, each day of the month has a corresponding chapter in Proverbs, for ex., May 24th we read Proverbs 24.  We divide up the chapter and each person reads a portion of the chapter.  Each person then chooses a verse that has special meaning or emphasis for them out of that chapter, and we share it with the rest of the family.  Then we have prayer requests and each take turns praying together.   The past couple of years we have also read a chapter out of another book of the Bible and have covered quite a few books in that time!  This summer we are reading together in the evening before our evening prayer.

How long do you spend per devotion?

About 30 minutes.

What type of resources do you use?

The Bible.  When our girls were very young Russ read through a children’s story Bible every night.  Another book we used was Little Visits With God.  We also read through Pilgrim’s Progress as a family, also Hind’s Feet in High Places. There was also a time when we sang hymns together via piano and that was very special.  We would choose one hymn each month to focus on learning. It added to the family worship time.

How do you make application to your kids?

When we discuss the verses, we ask questions pertaining to those verses or give life illustrations out of our experiences. I remember vividly a story my dad would tell every time we read Prov. 15 about a soft answering turning away wrath. My dad always told the same story, but it stuck! Even to this day I remember that illustration when I someone is angry with me.

Has your family changed the way you do devotions together as your kids have become older?

Yes, we used the little story Bibles before the kids could hardly sit up and now it is all straight Bible with everyone participating in the reading and praying.  During school we also take turns with who is in charge of dividing out the verses [of each Proverb or chapter] and saying who goes first. We also tried to cover some of the Baptism catechism which at the time wasn’t very interesting but I think it made an impact down the road. I remember when my younger siblings were just learning to read, my mom would choose one verse that looked somewhat easy to read out of the chapter for the day for the just-learning-to-read child to read out loud. As we’d work our way around the family circle, we’d have to what patiently for the younger one to read their verse. It was good for us older ones to learn patience and good for the younger to feel a part of the family.

Any other words of wisdom to encourage other families?

Don’t get discouraged!  And try to be consistent even if it feels like no one is listening.  The younger ones will learn even if it seems over their heads.   It is good if the father can be the leader in the devotions and if the mother organizes the time and children to be together.

For more of my thoughts on family devotions click here.

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Devotions 101 ~ Lisa’s Story

Posted by on Jun 28, 2010 in Passing on a Godly Heritage | 0 comments

If you follow this blog, you know we’ve been talking about passing a godly heritage to our kids (click here to view these posts). Last week I shared how the Hunter family does devotions. Today, I’d like to share one family’s method of carrying out family devotions. I met my sweet friend, Lisa, around nearly five years ago. She and her husband moved from California to Texas to join the staff at our church. In the past four years God has blessed their family with three precious children.

Lisa and I have worked together at numerous youth events and have shared many laughs and prayers together in the process. She is a sweet woman whose love and desire for the Lord shines through into her everyday life. She’s an example to me of being joyful in all of the little things in life. Lisa’s love for her husband and children is huge! Thanks, Lisa, for being a great mommy and helping me out with this little project!

How often does your family have devotions together?

We would love to do devotions every night with the family, but with us in ministry we find ourselves not home every night. We have family devotions about 4-5 nights a week.

How long do you spend per devotion?
We have three children ages 4,2, and 1, so devotion time does not last longer than 10-15 minutes.
What type of resources do you use?
Big Thoughts for Little People, by Kenneth Taylor.
Leading Little Ones to God, by Marian M. Schoolland
Big Truths for Little Kids, Susan Hunt & Richie Hunt
The Jesus Storybook Bible, Sally Lloyd-Jones
and many more books…
The Seeds Cds that are strictly Scripture
Describe a typical family devo time together.
We all sit together on the couch and sometimes we let Micaiah play on the floor (our one year old).  After devotions we pray and then I play the piano and we sing about 3 praise songs. Anna’s favorite is Amazing Grace. :)
How do you make application to your kids?
We ask them questions about the story and show them what God did and how He wants us to live as a result.

Has your family changed the way you have done devotions as your kids have become older? When the kids start going to school we will also have morning devotions at the breakfast table with daddy.

Any other words of wisdom to encourage other families?
We love special time with the kids at bedtime to talk about the day and praise God together as we pray before bed with them. They love to talk late at night when they are relaxed in bed. This is a sweet time I would not give up for anything.  These are the years to plant the seeds..and wait in anticipation for the salvation of their souls when, God-willing, Christ will call them to Himself for His glory!

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Devotions 101 ~ Monica’s Story

Posted by on Jun 24, 2010 in Passing on a Godly Heritage | 2 comments

For several posts now I’ve been talking about family devotions. (Click here and here to view these posts.) I thought it would be beneficial to share with you several practical examples of a few families methods for having time together with Jesus. First, I’ll share with you what family devotions in the Hunter home look like.

As you know, Matt and I were blessed with our little girl in December. We have LOVED being parents and enjoyed little Abigail more and more each day. Abby and I have our own devotions during the day while Matt is at work, and we also have time with Matt in the evening. As I answer these questions, I’ll be sharing specifics from both times with you.

How often does your family have devotions together?

Abigail and I spend time with Jesus together five days a week. As a family, we probably average twice a week.

How long do you spend per devotion?

Both times are between 20 and 30 minutes.

What type of resources do you use?

Abigail was born on December 30. The Sunday following her birth, our pastor encouraged our entire church to commit to read through the Bible in a year. Matt received an ESV one year Bible for Christmas, so I thought that Abs and I could through the Bible together the first year of her life. We haven’t been on schedule the whole time, but we are plodding through it faithfully!

As a family we are using the same Bible to read each day. Since we only read a few days a week, it will take us quite a bit longer, but the benefits are still there!

We’ve also read from John McArthur’s Daily Readings from the Life of Christ. This is a great little book with a one page Scripture/meditation for the day. We read and discuss the theme and how it applies to our life.

A kid’s Bible that I have fallen completely in love with is the Jesus Storybook Bible. I’ll probably do a separate book review on this Bible soon because there is too much to say about it here. If you’re looking for a great kids resource though, check this one out. It is amazing!!

Describe a typical family devo time together.

I read the daily section of our one year Bible to Abigail while I’m nursing. When she was first born though, I would lay her in the bed next to me in the mornings and read out loud to her. Often she would fall asleep, but hopefully she was dreaming about Jesus! :) We then pray together and sing a few Bible songs. She loves “Happy All the Time” and “I’m in the Lord’s Army” mostly because of the hand motions (which are, unfortunately, not shown on these videos).

In the evenings, Matt and I take turns reading out loud. We then share prayer requests and pray together. Sometimes Abigail is in bed by this point (since Matt’s schedule is so inconsistent). When she isn’t, I hold her in my lap to keep her quiet.

How do you make application to your kids?

Children understand far more than some people give them credit. Whenever we’re reading, we try to make application to Abs about a truth. We usually just say a sentence or two, but I want her to begin early to see that the Bible is applicable to her. For example, the one year Bible pulls a section out of the new testament, old testament, Proverbs, and Psalms. We spent quite a bit of time in the gospels. If we read a story about Jesus healing someone, I would say, “Abigail, see? Jesus is powerful and can heal people when they are sick.” Or if we read a story in the OT about Israel’s sin I might say, “Abigail, God hated Aiken’s sin when he stole and lied to God. God hates it when we sin too. That’s why we always need to obey God and our mommy and daddy.” Proverbs (my favorite Bible book) always has an application. ” ‘Wisdom is the principle thing, therefore get wisdom and with all thy getting, get understanding.’ See, Abigail? Wisdom is important to God. We need to seek after His wisdom everyday.”

Has your family changed the way you do devotions together as your kids have become older?

Well, not yet! But we will, I’m sure as Abigail grows and, Lord willing, more children come!

Any other words of wisdom to encourage other families?

Beginning family devos is the hardest step. Start small and commit to consistency. God will bless! In looking around for ideas for these posts, I came across an interview with John Piper about his way of doing family devotions. Check out this article for his ideas and method.

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Devotions 101 ~ How To

Posted by on Jun 21, 2010 in Passing on a Godly Heritage | 0 comments

What feelings well up inside when the words “family devotions” are said?  Fear? Apprehension? Dread? Obligation? Do you imagine a half hour of frustration while you try to keep the little ones still? Can you picture your teen rolling their eyes as they let out a sigh?

Hopefully, none of those feelings or ideas pop into your head. Whether they do or not, however, family devotions are a great way to bring your children together to grow in love with the Lord together. Last week we discussed the why’s of family devotions; today we’ll be learning some simple steps to put them into practice within your home. The “how to’s” of family devotions.

1. Set a Consistent Time

Most things in life happen on a schedule. From doctor’s appointments to teacher meetings, haircuts to dinner with friends, we nearly always set a time and place for events. Family devo’s are no different. They will not simply occur without forethought. Pick a time for your devotions that is doable for your entire family. It may be after breakfast each morning; immediately following supper; right before bedtime; or you may say three nights a week at seven; or Tuesday nights become family nights that begin with devos. Do what works for your family, but be consistent. This helps everyone plan around this important family time. Your son has no excuse that he has homework to do instead when he knew that devo’s were already planned. Make sure you choose a time when your family is alert and free from distractions. If family devotions are new to your family, you may want to start with once a week. I’d definitely recommend working up to several days a week for full devotions and maybe smaller ones on the weekends.

2. Pick a Place

Choose a spot in your home that is free from distractions, has plenty of light, and allows family involvement. Dining room tables and living rooms work well. Turn off electronics and don’t answer the phone during this time.

3. Allow Father’s to Lead

As the God-ordained spiritual leader of home, dad should be leading devotions. This does NOT mean that mom can’t help with topic choices, gathering the children, or offering wisdom, but it does mean that dad clearly leads and is not drug into devotions by mom! What a way for husbands to love their wives and show their love for their families and the Lord than by assuming the lead in devotions. Of course, if mom can/wants to lead devotions sometime during the day while dad is at work, she can. But, dad still needs to lead the entire family in time with the Lord at other times during the week.

4. Choose a Topic and Use your Bible

  • Maybe your family is experiencing a trial or about to go through a huge transition. Discuss what God says about it in His word.
  • Topical studies are fun. Go through the Bible to learn about obedience (always a needed topic for kids and parents!), giving, faith, diligence, prayer, etc.
  • Read through a book of the Bible together.
  • Highlight heroes of the faith both in the Bible and in history.
  • Read excerpts of a biography of a Christian leader with character.
  • Study difficult passages.
  • Go through a Children’s Bible
  • Ask your kids what they would like to learn about. You may be surprised at what they desire.
  • Make sure to use your Bible. Even if you know the story by heart or have a passage memorized, by opening the word you are able to show your children what God himself said (not just dad), and it shows that you submit to God’s word.

5. Pray

Devotions are a great time to model prayer for your family. Prayer is an excellent way for your family to be drawn together too. Here are some prayer ideas:

  • Have each person pray in turns.
  • Have each person pick someone else in the family to pray for.
  • When each person prays, have them say one praise, one request, and one confession.
  • Pray for something specific each day of the week:
    • Sunday: Pastor, church, missionaries
    • Monday: The sick and needy
    • Tuesday: Government leaders
    • Wednesday: Family and relatives
    • Thursday: Neighbors and friends
    • Friday: Thanksgiving and praise
    • Saturday: Unsaved
  • Keep a prayer journal with requests. What an amazing testament to God’s faithfulness this will be to your children!

6. Involve the Family

  • When reading a passage, have each family member read a section.
  • Have younger children draw a picture of the passage/story being read.
  • Use object lessons
  • Create plays with the Bible story
  • Have a weekly memory verse
  • Sing songs together

7. Apply the Lesson

Ask questions about a passage:

  • What is God saying to the people to whom this passage was written?
  • What is God saying to us?
  • How can we apply this as a family? as individuals?
  • What can we specifically do before the next family devotion to live this out?

Make sure to follow up with each person at the next devo time to see who did/did not apply a truth. See what they learned. Praise your children throughout the day if you see them living out a lesson. Reference back to devo time during the day if they need some personal discipleship.

8. Make it Fun

Family devotions should be an enjoyable time, not something to be dreaded by your children. Work with your kids ages and learning abilities. Devotions may only be 10 min with younger children, but could certainly be longer with older kids. Ask lots of questions about what your learning and use some of the ideas listed above. If you have fun with learning about God, it will definitely help your children do better. If your kids do seem bored, don’t be afraid to try something new. But, be careful not to completely cater to them or to stop devo’s all together if they seem to not be enjoying them.

9. Just do it!

Family devotions can be hard and overwhelming, but the benefits are eternal! The easiest way to make them happen is to just do it! Open your Bible, gather the family, read, and pray. When you do, know that you are not only living in obedience to Christ, but you are impacting your future and the future of your kids.

Hopefully this lengthy post encourages you. Let me know what some of your ideas are for family devotions. Stay tuned later this week for some personal devotion testimonies.

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Teaching Godliness Part 3 ~ Family Devotions

Posted by on Jun 15, 2010 in Passing on a Godly Heritage | 34 comments

Passing a love for the Lord on to children can seem an overwhelming task. As we’ve talked about in a few previous posts, doing this starts with a commitment to follow the Lord ourselves, and this spills over into our daily routines, including attending church. (Click here and here to read these entries.)

Today I want to highlight an area that can be used within the home: Family Devotions.  Many people may feel inadequate and unequipped by this task. My goal for this week is to show you the why’s of Family Devotions, followed by the how’s, and conclude with a few practical examples of this special family time.

To being, why is it so important to spend time together as a family reading, praying, and discussing God? Throughout Scripture God commands parents to teach and disciple their children. This is not an option for us.

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Prov. 22:6

“She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.”  Prov. 31:26

“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates…” Deut. 11:18-20

In This Momentary Marriage, Piper states, “Marriage is for making children into disciples of Jesus. The purpose of marriage is not merely to add more bodies to the planet. The point is to increase the number of followers of Jesus on the planet.” God gave parents the ability to fulfill the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) within their homes. This is a command, a mission, and privilege. We parents should commit to be wise stewards of the time we have with our families to use it to point them to Christ. Heading to church a few times a week is an important practice for families to do together; but two to four hours a week is simply not an adequate amount of exposure to things of the Lord. Here are a few reasons I see family devotions as crucial to the spiritual well being of the home:

  • Children need to experience God within the security of their homes, with their heroes (mom and dad) showing His majesty. Kids have not had years of experience in Bible knowledge with a maturity like you have (no matter what stage of Christian life you are in).
  • Children need have to gospel presented to them continually.  Remember that faith comes through hearing, and hearing from the word of God ( Rom. 10:17). If our ultimate goal is to have children who KNOW God, we must consistently put Him in front of them. Children need to hear the good news of Jesus being born, living, dieing, and rising for them. NEVER cease to  tell this good news. “…so is my word that goes from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Is. 55:11)
  • Children need to learn about God. From Jonah to Moses to Jesus to Paul, where the world came from to where we go when we die, children are inquisitive sponges who soak up stories and wisdom. They are small in size, but they have huge hearts and minds that aren’t afraid to think deeply. What better avenue to guide their thinking than a family time of Bible study together?
  • Children need to draw strength from God. They need to see that Mom and Dad don’t have everything together and go to God when direction is needed.  If God is the leader of your home, let your kids see that!
  • Children need to take time to celebrate God’s blessings. Whether it’s a good grade on a test, the corn dog they had for supper, or the new clothes God provided, children should see God get the glory for daily blessings.
  • Children need to enhance family unity by sharing joy, thankfulness, fears, and struggles. Openness within a family about individual challenges will not only prepare children for adulthood, but sanctify them as they learn to biblically handle problems and real life situations.

Now that you have some reasons why family devotions are important, talk with your spouse about starting them in your home. Come back tomorrow to see some practical ways to begin this special family time.

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